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MLB Instant Replay

The umpire on the field rules foul ball. … The guy watching the replay says, "Huh? That ball was fair." … Call changed. … But then what happens to Carlos Beltran?

One of many questions that has to be addressed if replay is expanded in MLB. You rarely hear the pundits address issues like this. They pretty much only ever say "replay should expand" but then don't even acknowledge that it's not as simple as that.

This is more my observation than an opinion one way or another, but the issue of runner placement is a big issue that needs to be addressed.

On a fair or foul ball, what happens to the batter and any runners that are on? If there is a runner on a 2nd and a line drive down the left field line is called foul. Had it been called fair, the runner probably would have scored. Do you place that runner on third or do you place him at home (run scored).

A similar issue would be a caught/trapped ball. If a ball is called trapped, but then ruled later that it was caught, what happens to the runner who didn't tag up? Does that runner have to go back to their base? Is there any assumption about whether that runner could have/would have tagged up and proceeded to the next base?

This next one is just me thinking outloud, but how to you address the completely reflexive knee-jerk reaction to a call made that causes a player to stop or hesitate even for a second. For example, runner on third, 2 outs. Batter hits a chopper to shortstop, the runner on third stays at first until the shortstop makes the throw to first, which is extremely close and ruled "out: inning over." Meanwhile, the runner on third crosses the plate but the run doesn't count. Replay then show that the runner at first was safe, but the first baseman would have had a plenty of time to turn and throw home had he reacted to a call of "safe". What happens to the runner? Is he awarded home plate? Or should he be returned to third? It would be hard to award a run when there was no guarantee that it would have scored.

I know we've talked about this before, but now that it's going down, I figured I'd open an official thread to discuss the possibilities.
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2887.gifAlex - But let history remember, that as free men, we chose to make it so!
06/06/2012 @ 01:24:32 PM
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I'm probably not going to like expanded replay
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
06/06/2012 @ 02:02:07 PM
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I think it would just change how the game is called/played. For traps/fair, just err on the side that allows play to continue. Obviously this isn't going to be perfect, especially since you wouldn't want to rely on replay totally*, but it would change things somewhat.

I guess what I'm getting at is that trying to figure out how replay would fit on top of the game as we know it isn't necessarily right, because it could/will change. Much like in football where players treat the ball as live no matter what, and then wait to find out. The umps will have to try to err on the side of fair balls**, and offense and defense will just have to treat anything close to the lines as if they were fair, regardless.

Traps are trickier, because there's the runners have to tag or not aspect, but in most "big cases" like a runner at third, they'll probably be waiting on the bag either way.

When it's all said and done, even "worse case" which is they make no attempt to guess what would happen: the batter who would have been out gets first, and everyone else moves as they're forced, that's still better. Even if Ryan Braun is called out on what should have been a run scoring double, having runners on first and second and getting that out back is, almost universally***, better than the out, if replays show the ball was dropped.

*Although, if they do it in a smart manner, there's really no reason they can't replay lots of things.

**Much like how, love it or hate it, the new "review every scoring play" NFL rule change led to the refs calling more plays a TD, and then going to see if it wasn't.

***Dropped run scoring sac flys would be a problem, but still as a whole fewer outs would be better, and again, that was a worst case, no exceptions, no guessing, system.
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Jeremy edited this 3 times, last at 06/06/2012 2:08:39 pm
scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
06/06/2012 @ 02:29:58 PM
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Well, the "worst case scenarios" might seem like nit-picky "that hardly happens", but those things actually do happen and you need to be ready with an acceptable solution for when it does. The purpose of the expanded replay in baseball is get calls right and take some of the judgement away from the umps. You don't want to simultaneously create a system with a whole new set of judgements that might be even more subjective (and thus more likely to be wrong/controversial) than the original system.

I think a case of a trap or a catch would often result in a base runner who wasn't tagging up. Afterall, if the outfielder trapped it, it probably means he had to run a long way to attempt to make a spectacular catch.
So like this case. Runner on 2nd and third and fly ball hit into the gap. The runner on third goes about a qtr of the way off his base and the runner on 2nd runs and starts to round third because "hey, that ball is not getting caught". But then Carlos Gomez and his incredible speed makes an amazing catch that the ump rules as a trap. So both runners score. Now, they review the call and see that Gomez made the catch. But you have 2 runners that didn't tag up, but both scored according to the original ruling. Now that the replay shows it's a catch, do the runners have to return to their bases? Or does the runner on third get awarded home plate? (But Gomez was darn near the warning track on his belly. The runner on third was Dee Gordan who also has incredible speed, who likely would have been able to return to third and then get home.)

I agree that it wouldn't be an issue if the runners are waiting on the bag regardless of whether it's caught or trapped. That answer is easy. The hard part is deciding what to do in the cases that are the exception. There are a lot of moving parts in baseball. What worries me are the cases where the decision comes out to something like "the runners return to their bases, and the batter is out", when what's more likely based on my above example that the runner on 3rd would have indeed scored and the runner on second may have easily been thrown out. Throw into this mix the potential for different combination of outs, and somebody at some point will by rule get screwed out of something. Suddenly the human element of getting screwed by somebody making a bad call seems better than getting screwed by the a system that is designed to screw someone.
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Scott perfected this at 06/06/2012 2:39:02 pm
jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
06/06/2012 @ 02:47:39 PM
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Well, if they're way off their bag they were probably already making the "ill just go back" consession. If they were already on third there's no reason to leave it if it's deep enough, and again, if you're halfway you're already playing the "risk it" game. It's much more problematic in the reverse situation, where they go halfway, then trot back to first/second after a catch that wasn't a catch.

Also, again, teams will factor replay IN to the gamesmanship so, it's sort of silly to play the "what if" game on "today's" plays. Once implemented, all baserunners will know the call isn't gospel, and the game will adjust accordingly.

When I said worse case, I wasn't talking about the edge cases of what can happen, I was saying even if we do nothing, no guessing, no what ifs, and ignore that yes, the runner on second probably scores if that's called correctly, and simply award the batter first, and force everyone over as needed, that's still better for your offense than calling the batter out. I wasn't talking about ignoring any types of plays, I was referring to the actual "fix" as a worst case way of fixing it, and pointing out that even that is better than not fixing it.

Yes, the runner on 2nd would have scored on a botched call should-be-double, but 1st and 2nd with no outs is better than what would happen today, which is the original runner on 2nd and 1 more (the batter) out.

Hell, the cases where you might be better with the out. (A run scoring sac fly that was dropped and an out, as opposed to 1st and 3rd with one less out) could be solved as easily as letting the manager choose to take the play as originally called, or the runner on first+force.
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Jeremy messed with this 5 times, last at 06/06/2012 2:56:20 pm
scott.jpgScott - No, I did not change your screen saver settings
06/06/2012 @ 02:55:12 PM
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Jeremy Wrote - Today @ 02:47:39 PM
Also, again, teams will factor replay IN to the gamesmanship so, it's sort of silly to play the "what if" game on "today's" plays. Once implemented, all baserunners will know the call isn't gospel, and the game will adjust accordingly.


I pretty much fully agree with everything except this. Like I said, since calls will be changed after the fact, and baseball has a lot of moving parts, you better have some solutions to take out the judgement call like what to do with the baserunners. These aren't even hypothetical scenarios. They happen if not every day then probably at least once a week. And baseball is full of these scenarios. So I think you DO have to look at potential cases and what should be done in certain situations. Sure, the game will slowly evolve to where players will strategize a little bit, but the game of baseball isn't just "played to the whistle and beyond" like, say football. In baseball, there might be 2 or 3 "whistles" on any given play.

I'm not saying I don't think replay will work. I'm saying that it isn't as simple as just "hey, look at the video at call that hit a double" as the majority of the "expand replay" crowd wants to think (or at least that's all they express).
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Scott edited this at 06/06/2012 2:56:51 pm
scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
06/06/2012 @ 03:01:12 PM
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I do think you are right about the worse case scenario being a single instead of a double when the caught flyball is ruled a trap, or whatever it becomes. But what would drive fans and players nuts would be if the judgement was left soley to the ump and you compare two replays from different plays that resulted in two different calls on the field. The point, to me, would be to reduce the amount of "judgement" that is needed in deciding what to do once the play is corrected via replay.
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Scott edited this 3 times, last at 06/06/2012 3:02:11 pm
fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - Robots don't say 'ye'
06/06/2012 @ 03:06:32 PM
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No, it's not easy, but the fact remains you can't necessarily play "what if" on pre-replay scenarios because they'll, potentially change.

For example, it might not be worth worrying about, or at the very least the variables change to things we can't foresee, what can happen on a play at second where the umpire incorrectly rules the second baseman on the bag for the 3rd out, and what that means for "I stopped running to first because he was called out" or "I didn't throw to first because you called him out" because the game will change so that defenses "turn double plays", even with 2 outs, and runners run the bases as if the other players were safe, just in case.

I didn't mean there wont be problems, just that the equation will change, and in that regard we might have to wait to see how it plays out, and tweak it. Otherwise it's potentially garbage in garbage out.

Scott Wrote - Today @ 03:01:12 PM
I do think you are right about the worse case scenario being a single instead of a double when the caught flyball is ruled a trap, or whatever it becomes. But what would drive fans and players nuts would be if the judgement was left soley to the ump and you compare two replays from different plays that resulted in two different calls on the field. The point, to me, would be to reduce the amount of "judgement" that is needed in deciding what to do once the play is corrected via replay.


That's why my "solution", to the extent that I meant it to be a real proposal at all, doesn't have any judgement.* It's just "Do you want to take first and force, or take the play as called?".

*Though again, my main point was that this was pretty much the least they could do to "reward" an offense they "wronged", and that even if called correctly it probably would have played out much better for the offense, getting first is still better than an out.
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Jeremy messed with this 4 times, last at 06/06/2012 4:11:06 pm
fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - Robots don't say 'ye'
06/06/2012 @ 03:17:48 PM
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Personally I think the best place to start is to have replay only apply to dead ball situations, or situations where it doesn't matter.

The Nyjer Morgan play from who knows how long ago where he ignored his 3rd base coach and tagged up on Matt Kemp is a perfect example. He makes the final out of the inning, or he's safe and the game is over. There's no reason to not replay that.
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Jeremy messed with this 2 times, last at 06/06/2012 3:19:24 pm
scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
06/06/2012 @ 03:28:52 PM
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My point is that it isn't just batter than got wronged. And it isn't about what was incorrect. It's that a call can have a domino effect on that causes any number of scenarios. So rewarding the batter first base might be the right call indeed, but what do you do about the runners? This is another reason why you need to take scenarios into play before deciding things. Like this: Runner on second. batter hits a line drive to 2ndbase and the 2bman makes a diving stab. The rule is out, but the runner, having had no time to react (and no time to "play it safe becasue you can't trust the call") is caught off the base and is doubled off. Then the replay shows he didn't catch it, what happens to the runner? He might have been able to retreat in time, but maybe he was running on contact (as you would with any ball hit to the right side of the infield), and hearing "out" he had to stop and run back to 2nd. Had the call been made correctly initially, he would have kept running and made it to third easily. So what's the correct call? Is the runner out? Do they award him the base he was on? What say you on that one?
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - Robots don't say 'ye'
06/06/2012 @ 03:30:42 PM
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One idea I had. Put a 2 foot wide alt color down the lines. So there's the chalk, and then that color, and then foul territory.

Anything that hits grass to the left of third is foul, anything the color in is "assume fair". That will take some of the "reaction" decision away from the umps, who even if they wanted to err on the fair ball side, couldn't right now if they wanted to. On close plays on the grass/color border, even if the field Umps were "wrong" on it being foul foul, it's almost certainly actually foul. It would only take an extra second for the "real" call, and most importantly meanwhile the action on the field is carrying out in the simple-to-undo way.

Seems like that would largely solve that particular issue, although I can already hear the heads of some purists exploding. Though for the record, I see this only as a potential solution, it being a good idea or not is different.
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Jeremy perfected this 3 times, last at 06/06/2012 3:50:11 pm
scott.jpgScott - You're going to have to call your hardware guy. It's not a software issue.
06/06/2012 @ 03:31:50 PM
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Jeremy Wrote - Today @ 03:17:48 PM
Personally I think the best place to start is to have replay only apply to dead ball situations, or situations where it doesn't matter.

The Nyjer Morgan play from who knows how long ago where he ignored his 3rd base coach and tagged up on Matt Kemp is a perfect example. He makes the final out of the inning, or he's safe and the game is over. There's no reason to not replay that.

This I agree with. Just because you can't review every play doesn't mean you shouldn't review ANY play. It would be easy to correct calls like this. If the call wouldn't affect the rest of the play, then it's fair game.
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Scott perfected this at 06/06/2012 3:32:48 pm
fry6beeu9.jpgJeremy - Broadcast in stunning 1080i
06/06/2012 @ 03:40:44 PM
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Scott Wrote - Today @ 03:28:52 PM
My point is that it isn't just batter than got wronged. And it isn't about what was incorrect. It's that a call can have a domino effect on that causes any number of scenarios. So rewarding the batter first base might be the right call indeed, but what do you do about the runners? This is another reason why you need to take scenarios into play before deciding things. Like this: Runner on second. batter hits a line drive to 2ndbase and the 2bman makes a diving stab. The rule is out, but the runner, having had no time to react (and no time to "play it safe becasue you can't trust the call") is caught off the base and is doubled off. Then the replay shows he didn't catch it, what happens to the runner? He might have been able to retreat in time, but maybe he was running on contact (as you would with any ball hit to the right side of the infield), and hearing "out" he had to stop and run back to 2nd. Had the call been made correctly initially, he would have kept running and made it to third easily. So what's the correct call? Is the runner out? Do they award him the base he was on? What say you on that one?


In general, if the botched call involves the batter, everyone goes back to where they were, unless forced by the batter if awarded first. I don't know how to score it, and I didn't pretend to have it all worked out. I'm just saying, whatever the solution is, that they wouldn't HAVE to play the "what if" game. Even not letting you move up at all, unless forced to, is an improvement on just getting totally screwed.
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
06/06/2012 @ 03:45:45 PM
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Jeremy Wrote - Today @ 03:30:42 PM
Seems like that would largely solve that particular issue, although I can already hear the heads of some purists exploding.


Seems like a decent "outside the box" kind of idea, but I can already hear the purists mocking it by saying "now balls are 'fair-ish' or 'foulish'".

But it's not that outside the box. They already have the "runners lane" down first base that is supposed to be where a runner is supposed to be to avoid getting hit with a throw. This wouldn't be that different from that concept.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - Broadcast in stunning 1080i
06/06/2012 @ 04:32:50 PM
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And, to answer the main question in the article, the answer could just be "Carlos isn't charged with a strike", but, more to my point from before, in a world WITH replay, Carlos would/could/should, run out that play as if the call was fair, and they'd sort it out later.*

*Basically, in a nutshell, a lot of our objections/concerns center around the fact that, right now, play stops on calls that can't change. That won't be the case anymore, which itself changes things.

If a ball is lined to the shortstop and picked near the dirt, the shortstop will throw to first either way, and the runner will run it out either way.

For that matter, other than possible injury concerns on plays that won't count, I'm not sure I see the need for an immediate and rushed fair/foul call at all. Everything could just be played as if fair until the real call is reached. Not playing balls popped back 30 rows into the seats behind home like it might sneak in fair, and other obviously foul balls, would just be natural. Close fair/foul calls are already 90% played like they're fair. The only plays with even any appreciable change are plays like Carlos' screamer, and in those cases we'd be talking about delaying the call about 2 seconds. There's no real reason we have to have, or should even want when a quick deferring might be better, a call there before the batter can get a step out of the batters box in the first place.
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Jeremy perfected this 6 times, last at 06/06/2012 5:19:44 pm
2887.gifAlex - 3618 Posts
06/06/2012 @ 05:19:46 PM
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Do not like, because of the injury thing, especially on turning double plays "unnecessarily" and such. You could also end up with more collisions at home in 2 out scenarios.

Scott Wrote - Today @ 03:45:45 PM
Jeremy Wrote - Today @ 03:30:42 PM
Seems like that would largely solve that particular issue, although I can already hear the heads of some purists exploding.


Seems like a decent "outside the box" kind of idea, but I can already hear the purists mocking it by saying "now balls are 'fair-ish' or 'foulish'".

But it's not that outside the box. They already have the "runners lane" down first base that is supposed to be where a runner is supposed to be to avoid getting hit with a throw. This wouldn't be that different from that concept.

Other than both of them involving chalk lines, they have nothing in common.

Jeremy Wrote - Today @ 04:32:50 PM
Close fair/foul calls are already 90% played like they're fair.

Until the ump calls foul. A lot of these balls would be going into the corner, which means baserunners and the batter will most likely be running 1+ base farther than necessary if incorrectly ruled fair, plus any put-out will involve a tag which is dangerous. A lot of people will be pissed when All-Star X breaks a wrist on a head first slide into second that is ruled a foul ball.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - I hate our freedoms
06/06/2012 @ 05:33:56 PM
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Assuming it takes that long to confirm. Like I said, it's a concern, and it will happen, but it's not like they don't already slide 32409 times a game. I wouldn't say that's a reason to avoid it, especially since they could get hit in the head by the next pitch, or do something else, if made to remain in the batters box another 1-n pitches.

I think most all stars who get hurt do it in the batter's box.
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newalex.jpgAlex - 3618 Posts
06/06/2012 @ 09:36:22 PM
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Jeremy Wrote - Today @ 05:33:56 PM
I think most all stars who get hurt do it in the batter's box.


That's what she said.

I'm not sure if that works or not, but my favorite time to say that is when I'm not sure if it works or not because then no one is sure at first if they should laugh or not. pwned!

I don't know about the whole replay. Any more reply absolutely would have to be done by someone in booth somewhere to speed it up. And replay I feel has slowed down football, but football never really had any rhythm to it anyway and TV needs to get their 100 commercials per game somehow during a football game. Baseball I feel has more of rhythm 1, 2, 3 outs repeat, at least until relief pitchers and such get involved. If every baseball reply is going to mean a 1 minute commercial or 90s to make the call and then 120s to figure out the runners, that just sounds lame.

Playing softball in a co-ed Friday night league with one ump, you see some horrible calls, but they do tend to even out in the long run.
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scott.jpgScott - You're going to have to call your hardware guy. It's not a software issue.
06/07/2012 @ 07:48:27 AM
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Alex Wrote - Yesterday @ 05:19:46 PM
Do not like, because of the injury thing, especially on turning double plays "unnecessarily" and such. You could also end up with more collisions at home in 2 out scenarios.

Scott Wrote - Yesterday @ 03:45:45 PM
Jeremy Wrote - Yesterday @ 03:30:42 PM
Seems like that would largely solve that particular issue, although I can already hear the heads of some purists exploding.


Seems like a decent "outside the box" kind of idea, but I can already hear the purists mocking it by saying "now balls are 'fair-ish' or 'foulish'".

But it's not that outside the box. They already have the "runners lane" down first base that is supposed to be where a runner is supposed to be to avoid getting hit with a throw. This wouldn't be that different from that concept.

Other than both of them involving chalk lines, they have nothing in common.

They have nothing in common if you only take 2 seconds to think about it and are only looking for things to criticize about any point that's ever brought up.emoticon The point I was trying to make here wasn't that the first base running lane was probably something that was added in response to too many batters getting hit by throws from the plate. The rule was changed and this weird line next to the first base line was added to prevent such a play. So Jeremy's idea of having like a "fair-ish/foul-ish" line is somewhat akin to this; adding a new dimension to the field to aid in helping umpires make the correct call.
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scott.jpgScott - If you aren't enough without it, you'll never be enough with it.
06/07/2012 @ 08:00:32 AM
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Whatever is implemented, I don't see baseball replay working as well as football replay, and I feel like no matter what they decide, it will always be criticized for not working the way people think it should work.

For one, an umpire is trained to call what he sees. It's almost reflexive sometime. Things happen in baseball much faster than they happen in football (there is nothing in football that is moving 134 feet per second), and when an ump sees a ball land near the foul line, how convinced are you that a guy can see it land fair, and within about a second change the almost involuntary impulse to call it as he sees it rather than "assume fair". Let's assume that this is possible, and that umpires can do this. What happens if they don't assume fair on a call by mistake, and the ball was ruled foul on the field? What then?

I say we put a charge in foul territory and on the foul line. If the ball hits the foul line, a light turns green. If it lands in foul territory and without touching the line, a light turns red. That way, no more umps are making a decision about fair or foul.
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jeremy.jpgJeremy - 8953 Posts
06/07/2012 @ 10:25:56 AM
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As long as players know any foul ball might end up being fair, they should play accordingly. In that sense, it might not be a big deal. Football players play through the calls, and so will baseball players. (In other words, fair/foul might be a non issue, because the "solution" is just to ignore the umps on anything close.)
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scott.jpgScott - 6225 Posts
06/07/2012 @ 12:33:29 PM
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Football players play through the call and then get personal fouls and fines because the guy they hit obeyed the whistle; and as far as replay goes, if a whistle is blown (or heard to have blown) everything from that point on doesn't count. The play is essentially play is dead.

I see the concept of what you are trying to advocate, but it seems much easier said than done, and it would likely create as many problems as it might be trying to solve. The same ump who might have just called it foul would possibly then have to ignore himself to make a call at first base.

It would almost make more sense to not have the onfield ump call foul balls at all and just have everything come from the booth or my signal light system. If there is no call made initially at all, you're right, it would be assumed fair (almost instinctively), and it would seem to take mere seconds to check the replay and see if it is fair or foul. That way, the play would continue, the runner who is rounding third slides into home and is tagged out barely just as he would if it was fair. Then, the umpire in the booth checks the replay: if it's fair the play stands; if it's foul, the play resets as if it were foul. Done, I just fixed the replay system.
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